Local KPMG offices support national mission to donate 4 million books

Written on Mar 22, 2018

KPMG in CincinnatiBy Molly Ryan Kowaleski, OSCPA content & community manager

KPMG will donate more than 100,000 new books to children across the country this year, including the donation of its four millionth book through the firm’s “Family for Literacy” program.

The program – which is part of the “Read to Achieve” initiative in partnership with nonprofit First Book – is now in its tenth year. Across KPMG’s offices in Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland, more than 600 people have been involved in the program and more than 5,600 books have been donated over the past 12 months.

In addition to engaging KPMG employees, the firm involves KPMG’s extended family including spouses, children, interns, retirees, alumni and KPMG Brand Ambassadors and professional golfers Phil Mickelson, Stacy Lewis and Mariah Stackhouse.

“I attended the new partner meeting in 2009 and my wife attended a session the firm presented about the [Family for Literacy] program we just launched,” said Brian Campbell, business tax services partner at the KPMG Columbus office and “Partner Champion” for the firm’s KFFL efforts in Columbus. “She was a former teacher and was really interested in what we were doing in our communities, so the two of us decided to start the initiative in Columbus.”

KPMG in ClevelandKPMG partners with nearby schools that must meet criteria such as primarily serving children from low-income families, with disabilities or from military families. KPMG then contributes money to an account at First Book that the teachers can access to select books for their students based on their classroom experience and unique needs. Once the books arrive, KPMG employees pack backpacks that also contain pencils, erasers, notepads and bookmarks. Then volunteers visit schools to read and engage with the students.

“We have a small army of volunteers who go into the classrooms to read with the kids for 20 or 30 minutes,” Campbell said. “A lot of times it goes beyond the reading. They ask us questions about accounting and it tends to be a very rewarding opportunity for our people, versus just purchasing books and sending them to the school. The magic really happens when we go out to do the book drops.

“There’s a lot of passion if you look at the offices in Ohio,” Campbell said. “One of the things we find most rewarding are the thank-you letters we receive from the teachers, administrators and the kids for their books.”

In addition to filling library shelves, most of the books purchased are sent home with the kids and for many, the two or three books they receive through this program are some of the only ones they own.

“One of our core values as a firm is to give back to the communities in which we live and work,” Campbell said, “and when we looked at what was happening in our communities, one of the major barriers to literacy for children in low-income communities was lack of access to books. So, we thought this was a fantastic way to address some of those issues in our communities and for our employees to get involved in that space.”

Learn more about the program.

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